Anneliese Dodds MEP last week sent a letter to the EU Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, calling for scrutiny over the sale of Formula 1 from CVC Capital Partners to Liberty Media.
Of particular concern to the Labour MEP for South East England is the 1% stake currently held by the sport’s regulator, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), following a deal struck with Formula 1 in 2013. The shares were purchased at a cut price of £283,000 when the deal was signed and could be worth £33m at the current sale price.
The 1999-2001 European Commission investigation into Formula 1 was supposed to result in the FIA being limited to the role of regulator with no commercial interests in order to avoid any conflict of interest. Yet the current state of affairs – with the FIA standing to benefit financially from a sale which it is legally required to approve as regulator – seems to show that a clear conflict of interest remains.
Anneliese Dodds said: “The FIA has a duty to ensure the new owners of Formula One adhere to a ‘fit and proper persons test’ before they approve a sale of the sport. Given that they can only cash their £33m shares if they approve a sale, it appears a clear conflict of interest has arisen from their actions since the 2001 agreement with the Commission
“I have also asked the Commission for an update into their assessment of whether to launch a full investigation into anti-competitive practices within the sport. The current financial structure ensures the big teams will always receive the largest share of prize money, regardless of where they finish on the grid. We have already lost two good teams in my constituency and it is likely that more will follow if the situation doesn’t change soon.”